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Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Episode 475: Romance or Blasphemy

December 10th, 2021 | Robin

Hey look it’s another all-request episode!

Beloved Patreon backer Kieron Gillen opens the Gaming Hut, which we hope isn’t a portal into a hellish otherrealm, to ask how designers screen out their skill as GMs during in-house playtests.

Erudite backer Bruce Miller infiltrates the Book Hut to ask about Richard Marsh’s The Beetle, a horror novel that for twenty years out-sold Dracula.

In Ask Ken and Robin, estimable backer Martin Rundkvist asks how Robin, and by extension Ken, goes about choosing projects.

Finally sagacious backer Paul Douglas poses a question that can only fit in the paranoid space that is the Conspiracy Corner: was Lenin a mushroom?

Want to pose a question to the show? Get your priority question asking access with your support for the KARTAS Patreon!

Our Patreon-backed Letterboxd list of all films mentioned on the show is now up and running.

Also check out the Goodreads list of books mentioned on the show.

Snag Ken and Robin merchandise at TeePublic.


Human problems are out of hand, so thank goodness, and Atlas Games, for Magical Kitties Save the Day, a fresh, fun roleplaying game for players of all ages, and for GMs from age 6 and up!

Score a blood-drenched special bonus from Pelgrane Press when you order the print edition Night’s Black Agents Dracula Dossier Director’s Handbook or any of its associated bundles. A new 50-page Cuttings PDF of deleted scenes and horrors that didn’t fit is now available for a limited time with the voucher code VAMP2021.

The treasures of Askfageln can be found at DriveThruRPG. Get all issues of FENIX since 2013 available in special English editions. Score metric oodles of Ken Hite gaming goodness, along with equally stellar pieces by Graeme Davis and Pete Nash. Warning: in English, not in Swedish. In English, not Swedish. While you’re at it, grab DICE and Freeway Warrior!

Delta Green: Black Sites collects terrifying Delta Green operations previously published only in PDF or in standalone paperback modules.  They lock bystanders and Agents alike in unlit rooms with the cosmic terrors of the unnatural. A 208 page hardback by masters of top secret mythos horror Dennis Detwiller, Adam Scott Glancy, Shane Ivey, and Caleb Stokes.

Episode 466: Foolish Enough to Get Near Us

October 8th, 2021 | Robin

Our Gaming Hut series on the axes of RPG design takes a turn as Robin looks at the trade-offs he thinks about while working on games, starting with Simulation vs Emulation.

Fun With Science goes deep to contemplate the abundance of mesopelagic fish.

The Horror Hut gets connubial at the behest of beloved Patreon backer Toonspew, who wants to know if there’s a Queen in Yellow.

Finally we cover up our luminous watches and enter the Eliptony Hut to confront the dread mystery of the Brazilian vampire UFOs known as the chupas.

Want to pose a question to the show? Get your priority question asking access with your support for the KARTAS Patreon!

Our Patreon-backed Letterboxd list of all films mentioned on the show is now up and running.

Also check out the Goodreads list of books mentioned on the show.

Snag Ken and Robin merchandise at TeePublic.


Dig out your plastic T-Rexes and get them ready to stomp and chomp on your players’ character miniatures as our pals at Atlas Games announce the upcoming Kickstarter for Planegea, their dino-filled 5E setting of prehistoric fantasy adventure.

Score a blood-drenched special bonus from Pelgrane Press when you order the print edition Night’s Black Agents Dracula Dossier Director’s Handbook or any of its associated bundles. A new 50-page Cuttings PDF of deleted scenes and horrors that didn’t fit is now available for a limited time with the voucher code VAMP2021.

The treasures of Askfageln can be found at DriveThruRPG. Get all issues of FENIX since 2013 available in special English editions. Score metric oodles of Ken Hite gaming goodness, along with equally stellar pieces by Graeme Davis and Pete Nash. Warning: in English, not in Swedish. In English, not Swedish. While you’re at it, grab DICE and Freeway Warrior!

Fear Is a Fractal …and your world is a lie. A horror freed from an antique book reverberates through reality. But don’t despair. There is hope. A King waits for us. And Impossible Landscapes, the  first campaign for Delta Green: The Role-Playing Game waits for you. In PDF now, hardback in May. Hailed as “one of the best RPG campaigns ever made” and “a masterpiece of surreal horror!”

Ken and Robin Consume Media: Black Widow, Summer of Soul, and the Fate of the Artist

July 13th, 2021 | Robin

Ken and Robin Consume Media is brought to you by the discriminating and good-looking backers of the Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff Patreon. Each week we provide capsule reviews of the books, movies, TV seasons and more we cram into our hyper-analytical sensoriums. Join the Patreon to help pick the items we’ll talk about in greater depth on a little podcast segment we like to call Tell Me More.

Recommended

Black Widow (Film, US, Cate Shortland, 2021) On the run from the authorities, Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) finds a new lead to the Soviet assassin training program that warped her life—and reunites with her worse-for-wear costumed surrogate family (Florence Pugh, David Harbour, Rachel Weisz.) Self-contained, rooted in character, snappy and with clear, well-staged action, this shaggy dog spy romp nimbly leaps past the structural pitfalls of the MCU.—RDL

The Fate of the Artist (Comics, Eddie Campbell, 2006) When artist Eddie Campbell disappears, a detective interviews his family and associates (including a troupe of actors depicting one of his creations) to get a lead on his character. Campbell elevates a perfectly good joke with visual stories of the arts and a domestic-comedy comic strip (Honeybee) that acts as a sort of Greek chorus of Campbell’s home life. Campbell takes the form seriously to (seemingly) avoid taking the subject seriously, to giddy result. –KH

Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) (Film, US, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, 2021) Consigned to basement storage by dunderheads who didn’t think they could sell it, thrilling musical footage from a series of 1969 Harlem park concerts finds new life and historical context. Top acts include Stevie Wonder, Sly and the Family Stone, Gladys Knight and the Pips, The Staple Singers, and the Fifth Dimension. Crowd shots, usually a crutch in concert films, become the centerpiece, depicting the community that gathered around the music as much as the acts themselves.—RDL

Good

Black Widow (Film, US, Cate Shortland, 2021) A chance to break the Red Room that trained and twisted them reunites Natasha (Scarlett Johansson) with her sister Yelena (Florence Pugh). For a movie about mind control, this has a very on-the-rails, no-twists plot; for a comic-book spy movie the fights (while at least visible) don’t match the best of Marvel much less the best of the genre. Ray Winstone gets the Annette Bening role of “ridiculously squandered actor” this time around. Fortunately Johansson, Pugh, and Rachel Weisz (as their “mother” Melina) bring so much to the table as actors that you aren’t really hungry for much else after two years away from the MCU. –KH

By Sidney Lumet (Film, US, Nancy Buirski, 2015) The prolific director holds court as the sole talking head in a retrospective covering a career that starts in live TV and concludes in the mid-oughts, hitting such highlights as Twelve Angry Men, Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon, Network, and The Verdict. A fine companion to his excellent book of practical filmmaking, Making Movies.—RDL

Okay

The Baron in France (Fiction, John Creasey, 1953) and The Baron and the Mogul Swords (Fiction, John Creasey, 1966) Former jewel thief turned art dealer John Mannering investigates stolen gems, and the murders attendant on them, in these two able potboilers. Creasey wrote something like 600 books, including 47 titles in the Baron series, and don’t worry I’m not going to read them all. Based on these two random titles, they provide a modicum of action, not-too-challenging puzzles, and entirely unchallenging (not to say cardboard) characters. The pages do whiz by, though. –KH

Ken and Robin Consume Media: Mank Writes Kane and H. G. Wells is Full of Himself

December 8th, 2020 | Robin

 

Ken and Robin Consume Media is brought to you by the discriminating and good-looking backers of the Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff Patreon. Each week we provide capsule reviews of the books, movies, TV seasons and more we cram into our hyper-analytical sensoriums. Join the Patreon to help pick the items we’ll talk about in greater depth on a little podcast segment we like to call Tell Me More.

Recommended

Creem: America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine (Film, US, Scott Crawford, 2019) Documentary chronicles the scrappy, dysfunctional crew behind the scenes of the scrappy, proudly unrespectable rock magazine that published Lester Bangs and Dave Marsh. Another reminder that the story of any outsider culture institution includes volatile personalities and a hand-to-mouth balance sheet .—RDL

Die, Vol. 3: The Great Game (Comics, Kieron Gillen and Stephanie Hans, 2020) Balletic precession into the third act of this story of gamers returning (with their adult baggage) to the fantasy world that trapped them 30 years ago. Gillen’s story slows down just enough to let you feel the blows; Hans’ art if anything intensifies, with seemingly small decisions paying off like depth charges. Bonus points for H.G. Wells being full of himself. –KH [Full disclosure/gratuitous plug: An interview with Ken and Robin appears in the back matter of this volume.]

Night Editor (Film, US, Henry Levin, 1946) To cover up his affair with a rich psychopath (Janis Carter), a spiraling homicide detective (William Gargan) fails to report a murder they witness together. Carter turns in a performance for the villain hall of fame in a B-movie noir so perverse and brutal you wonder how the heck it got past the Hays Office. The title refers not to the main action but to an intrusive framing device set in a newspaper office, meant to launch an anthology series.—RDL

Good

Blackhat (Film, US, Michael Mann, 2015) The FBI releases self-made hacker/ubermensch Hathaway (Chris Hemsworth) from prison to help the Chinese MSS (Wang Leehom) track down a malevolent hacker. Mann cannot frame a bad shot, and in the moment the set pieces work amazingly well; but the story needed at least one more dimension to truly ensnare, and Hemsworth needed at least two more dimensions to portray his character. –KH

The Long Dumb Road (Film, US, Hannah Fidel, 2018) Uptight art student (Tony Revolori) receives unwanted life lessons from the extroverted oddball mechanic (Jason Mantzoukas) who fixes his car on his way to his school in L.A. Mantzoukas gets to play a grounded version of his chaotic comic persona in this winning road buddy flick, though its commitment to realism rules out a climactic finish.—RDL

Mank (Film, US, David Fincher, 2020) Convalescing from a car accident, charmingly caustic screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz (Gary Oldman) holes up on an isolated ranch to write the screenplay for Citizen Kane. Dreamlike Hollywood fantasia focuses less on the credit tussle with Orson Welles than the question of why Mank decided to stick it to erstwhile host William Randolph Hearst and, by way of collateral damage, Marion Davies. Points for including periodic cigarette burns to signal the changes of nonexistent reels.—RDL

Okay

21 Bridges (Film, US, Brian Kirk, 2019) Brilliant homicide detective with a strangely long list of kills on his record (Chadwick Boseman) races against the time to catch the coke heisters who gunned down eight of his colleagues. The script sets up the sealing off of New York’s titular bridges as a central premise and then does absolutely nothing with it. Boseman gives it more star power than it deserves as it oscillates between an action-movie reality level and serious drama.—RDL

EMMA. (Film, UK, Autumn de Wilde, 2020) Charismatic landowner’s daughter (Anya Taylor-Joy) meddles in the love life of her socially precarious friend (Mia Goth), to the tart dismay of hunky neighbor Mr, Knightley (Johnny Flynn.) Even the camera moves are broad in this fondant-colored Austen adaptation, which immediately telegraphs character traits that are meant to slowly reveal themselves over the course of the narrative .—RDL

JLA Classified: New Maps of Hell (Comics, Warren Ellis and Butch Guice, 2006) A sentient ancient alien weapon lands on Earth, and confronts the Justice League with its greatest fears. The set-up of this comic is by far the best part, as Ellis’ technophile imagination sets up a great hook; the payoff is more than correspondingly weak, however, a repetitive, simple story beat unworthy of Ellis. Grant Morrison did basically the same story vastly better in 1997.

Ken and Robin Consume Media: Harlem Renaissance Detecting, Italian Renaissance Painting, and That Play You’ve Heard About

July 7th, 2020 | Robin

Ken and Robin Consume Media is brought to you by the discriminating and good-looking backers of the Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff Patreon. Each week we provide capsule reviews of the books, movies, TV seasons and more we cram into our hyper-analytical sensoriums. Join the Patreon to help pick the items we’ll talk about in greater depth on a little podcast segment we like to call Tell Me More.

Recommended

The Collector of Lives: Giorgio Vasari and the Invention of Art (Nonfiction, Noah Charney and Ingrid Rowland, 2017) Biography of Tuscan Renaissance painter and architect Giorgio Vasari, whose 1550 book Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects established the precepts of art history as we know it. Packed with lively detail on its obsessively deadline-meeting protagonist, and also his precursors, contemporaries, and era.—RDL

The Conjure-Man Dies (Fiction, Rudolph Fisher, 1932) Harlem doctor John Archer and black NYPD detective Perry Dart must solve the murder of a West African conjure-man which rapidly becomes more than even the impossible crime it appeared. This first detective novel by an African-American writer joins Golden Age structure with Hammett-style street culture, without any white characters. The mystery compels, and if the ending is somewhat abrupt the narrative continuously fascinates and surprises on the way there. –KH

Dark and Bloody Ground: A True Story of Lust, Greed, and Murder in the Bluegrass State (Nonfiction, Darcy O’Brien, 1993) Fired East Kentucky prison guard becomes the accomplice of her chiseled felon lover as he joins a home invasion gang, whose loot later ensnares a colorful defense attorney. Minutely reported true crime saga situates its depraved criminal protagonists, who would be at home in either an Elmore Leonard novel or a Coen brothers film, in the broader context of place and social milieu.—RDL

Ford v Ferrari (Film, US, James Mangold, 2019) Sidelined by heart trouble, a determined former Le Mans champ (Matt Damon) enlists a hotheaded driver (Christian Bale) in the Ford Motor Company’s quixotic plan to beat legendary Italian car designer Enzo Ferrari at that most harrowing of competitions. With an expansiveness reminiscent of 60s widescreen epics, fits the many challenges of the race car flick into the reliable and satisfying chassis of a makers vs. suits story.—RDL

Hamilton (Film, US, Thomas Kail, 2020) Alexander Hamilton (Lin-Manuel Miranda) joins the Revolution, serves under George Washington, founds American capitalism, and dies in a duel against Aaron Burr (Leslie Odom, Jr.). Cut together from film of two 2016 original-cast performances of the smash musical, the movie essentially offers a “you are there” experience while reveling in the actors’ performances. Patriotic, optimistic, multiracial, and centrist, a fitting embodiment of the Obama era’s self-image. –KH

Good

Circus of Books (Film, Rachel Mason, 2019) Documentarian trains her lens on her self-certain mom and affable dad as they close up the West Hollywood porn emporium that for decades served as a fulcrum for L.A.’s gay community. Balances sweet family portraiture with community history at a time of sudden social change.—RDL

Eurovision Song Contest: the Story of Fire Saga (Film, David Dobkin, 2020) Oblivious dimwit (Will Ferrell) teams with the sweetly positive dimwit (Rachel McAdams) who has always loved him to pursue unlikely pop victory for their native Iceland at the titular celebration of titanic kitsch. Amiable spin on the Ferrell formula likely earns a star for those equipped to get the affectionate Eurovision in-jokes.—RDL

Okay

Jay and Silent Bob Reboot (Film, US, Kevin Smith, 2019) Conned out of their names by a Hollywood studio, Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Kevin Smith) head across the country to stop a reboot of Bluntman & Chronic and yes you’ve already seen this film in 2001, except then it had a budget and production values. Mewes has aged even worse than his acting, and Smith mugs more than usual, rendering sadly painful what should be at least a snicker-worthy nostalgia trip. Even as a devoted Askewniverse fan, Okay is as high as I go. –KH

Shockproof (Film, US, Douglas Sirk, 1949) Tough but naive parole officer Griff Marat (Cornel Wilde) gets in too deep when trying to pry a sultry murderer (Patricia Knight) from the suave gambler who led her down the path to crime. The main interest here is seeing a Samuel Fuller script realized by a more polished stylist, but you have to go in prepared for a tacked-on happy ending to lazily handwave away the noir moral transgression at the heart of the story.—RDL

Episode 384: Number One Nightmare

February 28th, 2020 | Robin

Look out for dirigibles as the Gaming Hut looks at the process of selecting your tech level when building an alternate timeline. The Aftermath sequence of The King in Yellow Roleplaying Game serves as our case in point.

In Ken and/or Robin Talk to Somebody Else, we chat with game designer and writer Sarah Saltiel.

Beloved Patreon backer Andrew Miller wants to know Ken’s thoughts on emergent continuity in Ask Ken and Robin.

The Consulting Occultist continues our series of arcane profiles from Belle Epoque Paris with a look at Ely Star, a protege of Robert Houdin who infused his astrology with kabbalism.

Want to pose a question to the show? Get your priority question asking access with your support for the KARTAS Patreon!

Snag Ken and Robin merchandise at TeePublic.


The place you only think you remember explodes with weird danger in Welcome to the Island, the first adventure anthology for Over the Edge from Atlas Games. Launch brand new stories, add intriguing complications to your existing arcs, or create exciting one-shots that bring the weird to your gaming table.

You’ve heard him talk about it. Now you can get it at retail or in the Pelgrane Press store: The Yellow King Roleplaying Game. Shatter your world with this eerie, physically imposing GUMSHOE game of decadent art and multiple existences. For a limited time only, enter the voucher code YELLOW at the Pelgrane shop to get 15% off all Yellow King items when you combine the core set with Absinthe in Carcosa and/or The Missing and the Lost.

The treasures of Askfageln can be found at DriveThruRPG. Get all issues of FENIX since 2013 available in special English editions. Score metric oodles of Ken Hite gaming goodness, along with equally stellar pieces by Graeme Davis and Pete Nash. Warning: in English, not in Swedish. In English, not Swedish. While you’re at it, grab DICE and Freeway Warrior!

Arc Dream Publishing presents a gorgeous new edition of Robert W. Chambers’ The King in Yellow, a deluxe hardback in delightful faux snakeskin, with a foreword by John Scott Tynes, annotations by our own Kenneth Hite, and stunning full-pate color  illustrations by Samuel Araya. Grab it while it lasts in the Arc Dream store.

Episode 346: Everybody’s Limbs are Still On

May 31st, 2019 | Robin

In the Gaming Hut, Patreon backer Hyperlexic asks Robin to elucidate the core pleasures of RuneQuest.

The History Hut finds us obeying the commands of backer Antti Elomaa to get to the bottom of Britain’s 1939 pet massacre.

Ken and Robin Recycle Audio with segments from our Robert W. Chambers and King in Yellow Mythos panels at Carcosa Con.

Finally in the Eliptony Hut we look at the bio-energetic theories of renegade Russian crank scientist Lev Gumilyov.

Want to pose a question to the show? Get your priority question asking access with your support for the KARTAS Patreon!

Snag Ken and Robin merchandise at TeePublic.


Over the Edge, the twisted game of counter-culture conspiracy, returns in a completely remagined edition by its original creator, Jonathan Tweet. Grab it wherever fine Atlas Games are sold, on June 1st.

Ken’s latest roleplaying game, The Fall of Delta Green, is now available in print or PDF or both from Pelgrane Press. Journey to the head-spinning chaos of the late 1960s, back when everyone’s favorite anti-Cthulhu special ops agency hadn’t gone rogue yet, for this pulse-pounding GUMSHOE game of war, covert action, and Mythos horror.

The treasures of Askfageln can be found at DriveThruRPG. Get all issues of FENIX since 2013 available in special English editions. Score metric oodles of Ken Hite gaming goodness, along with equally stellar pieces by Graeme Davis and Pete Nash. Warning: in English, not in Swedish. In English, not Swedish. While you’re at it, grab DICE and Freeway Warrior!

Arc Dream Publishing presents a gorgeous new edition of Robert W. Chambers’ The King in Yellow, a deluxe hardback in delightful faux snakeskin, with a foreword by John Scott Tynes, annotations by our own Kenneth Hite, and stunning full-pate color  illustrations by Samuel Araya. Grab it while it lasts in the Arc Dream store.

Episode 319: Eventually You Run Out of Zigs

November 16th, 2018 | Robin

Under the black stars of Carcosa, we celebrate the impending publication of Robin’s The Yellow King Roleplaying Game and the manuscript completion of Ken’s The King in Yellow Annotated Edition with an all-Pallid Mask edition of our decadent podcast.

In Among My Many Hats, Ken shares what he’s learned about Chambers and the Hyades while working on the aforementioned project.

Then in How to Write Good he lays out the steps involved in creating an annotated edition of an existing work.

The Food Hut explores what your Belle Epoque Yellow King characters might be eating and, more likely, drinking.

Finally the Consulting Occultist changes identities to embark on a series on the wizards and paranormalists you might encounter in 1890s Paris. First up: pioneering trickster Leo Taxil.

Want to pose a question to the show? Get your priority question asking access with your support for the KARTAS Patreon!

Snag Ken and Robin merchandise at TeePublic.

 


If you dig clever, take-that game play and/or ironic Soviet robots, Atlas Games’ new card game Cogs and Commissars was made for you. Buy it at a brick-and-mortar game store and send a selfie to Atlas, to get a special Neon Botsky promo card.

Ken’s latest roleplaying game, The Fall of Delta Green, is now available in print or PDF or both from Pelgrane Press. Journey to the head-spinning chaos of the late 1960s, back when everyone’s favorite anti-Cthulhu special ops agency hadn’t gone rogue yet, for this pulse-pounding GUMSHOE game of war, covert action, and Mythos horror.

Grab the translated riches of FENIX magazine in a special bundle deal from our friends at Askfageln, over at Indie Press Revolution. Score metric oodles of Ken Hite gaming goodness, a cornucopia of articles, complete games, plus the cartoon antics of Bernard the Barbarian. Warning: in English, not in Swedish. In English, not Swedish.

Just in time to save the world, though perhaps not your team of hardened covert agents, from the Mythos, the Delta Green Handlers Guide from Arc Dream Publishing is now in print and either at or headed to a game store near you. The slipcase print edition includes both the Handlers’ Guide and Agents’ Handbook, fitting snugly into your go bag along with your extra passports and list of weapons caches.

Episode 276: Retinue of Clowns and Goofs

January 19th, 2018 | Robin

 

Yeah verily and anon, the Gaming Hut goes iambic pentameter as Patreon backer Chris Camfield asks us how to add Shakespearean flavor to a roleplaying campaign.

Then your sweet and savory hosts venture into the Food Hut to reveal unbeatable flavor combinations.

Sandhogs and aqueducts turn from research into terror as Ken and Robin Talk To Someone Else summons Ruth Tillman of Cthulhu Confidential fame.

Now it can be told! Not a dream! Not an imaginary story! Finally recalls a book raid he neglected to tell us about previously, as Ken’s Bookshelf devours goodly portions of that NYC staple, Strand Books.

Want to pose a question to the show? Get your priority question asking access with your support for the KARTAS Patreon!

Snag Ken and Robin merchandise at TeePublic.


In Atlas Games’ wickedly different cooperative deck-building game Witches of the Revolution, you and your doughty coven fight the American Revolution the way it was really fought: with spells aplenty! Resurrect Ben Franklin, cure Paul Revere of lycanthropy and keep those red-coated witch hunters at bay.

It wasn’t on the maps. No one talked about it. But now you live there. Cthulhu City. Where the mayor goes everywhere with twin sacred jaguars, and the chief of police blinks at your with fishy eyes. Where the cultists run city hall and the investigators are hunted criminals. Cthulhu City, the new Trail of Cthulhu sourcebook from Pelgrane Press, by Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan.

In Highway Holocaust you are Cal Phoenix, the Freeway Warrior, champion and protector of Dallas Colony One. Defend this fragile convoy from H.A.V.O.C. bikers with this exclusive hardcover (with dust jacket and book ribbons), the first choose-your-own-adventure-gamebook in Joe Dever’s post apocalyptic series. From the fine folks at FENIX, now available from Modiphius.

With your Handlers Guide already at your side, it’s time to assemble some operations to spiral your Delta Green operatives into paranoia and Mythos horror. Delta Green: A Night at the Opera features six terrifying adventures from the conspiratorial minds of Dennis Detwiller, Shane Ivey, and Greg Stolze. Preorder before it’s desperately too late!

Ken and Robin Consume Media: Golden Age Mysteries and The Sewer Clown

September 12th, 2017 | Robin

Ken and Robin Consume Media is brought to you by the discriminating and good-looking backers of the Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff Patreon. Each week we provide capsule reviews of the books, movies, TV seasons and more we cram into our hyper-analytical sensoriums. Join the Patreon to help pick the items we’ll talk about in greater depth on our new podcast segment, Tell Me More.

Robin is off at the Toronto International Film Festival and posting capsule reviews over at his blog. When titles covered there are released in cinemas or on home video, he’ll rerun the reviews in future installments of this here hut.

Recommended

Love Lies Bleeding (Fiction, Edmund Crispin, 1948) Detective don Gervase Fen is conveniently on the scene when a public school reels under (at least) two murders. Calm and confident in tone, Crispin’s smooth wit, convincing characters, and nicely knotted mystery do ample justice to the setting he creates here. Among the best exemplars of the Golden Age of Mystery. –KH

Monster Island Tales (Fiction, James L. Cambias, 2017) Collects two good short stories: “Return to Skull Island” is a shaggy dog (Waldroppy dog?) zine review of a somewhat alternate King Kong; “The Dinosaur Train” is a deceptively light, touchingly Bradburyesque tale of a family with a traveling dinosaur show fallen on hard times in the 1980s. –KH

Good

The Case of the Gilded Fly (Fiction, Edmund Crispin, 1944) Crispin’s first mystery featuring his detective don Gervase Fen combines Oxford, the theater, and a locked room for a frothy mixture that reads like the lowest common denominator of Dorothy Sayers and John Dickson Carr, which is to say, still pretty good. Two amazingly effective M.R. Jamesian incidents don’t deepen the story so much as cast it in a watery light by comparison. –KH

Toni Erdmann (Film, Germany, Maren Ade, 2016) Slovenly, prank-loving teacher poses as an eccentric business figure in an effort to get closer to and/or severely annoy his workaholic daughter when she’s trying to close a difficult consulting deal. Dogme-esque comedy has some memorable scenes at its core, but is suffocated by a two hour forty minute run time full of dead moments crying out for a ruthless edit.—RDL

Okay

It (Film, US, Andy Muschietti, 2017) Focusing on only the childhood half of Stephen King’s masterpiece, even at 2 and a quarter hours the film feels both cramped and shallow, relying almost entirely on jump scares and theme music. Strong casting can only do so much; the script and director know they need to bring the town of Derry and the kids’ nightmares into the lived foreground, but have no real idea how to do it. Like the miniseries, It punts when replacing King’s ending; unlike the miniseries, It doesn’t have Tim Curry. –KH

Legends and Romances of Brittany (Nonfiction, Lewis Spence, 1917) Grab bag of Breton faerie, hero, saint and dolmen lore, with the prose voice and scholarship you’d expect from a hundred year old compendium. Useful source material for the Yellow King Roleplaying Game’s Brittany stretch goal, though scarcely a cracking casual read.—RDL

Tedious Brief Tales of Granta and Gramarye (Fiction, Arthur Gray, 1919) Seven supernatural tales of Jesus College Cambridge, none set after 1766. Gray deep dives into M.R. James-style antiquarianism without the grue and with only a very few droplets of dread, like a church-architecture-obsessed Ripley’s Believe it or Not! –KH

Film Cannister
Cartoon Rocket
d8
Flying Clock
Robin
Film Cannister